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THREE GRAND – THE PRICE OF COMMUNITY SPIRIT

20-06-2009

Grange Road

Residents in Kings Heath who want to close their road in Kings Heath for a street party aimed at fostering community spirit have been quoted three thousand pounds by Council jobsworths – a fee which is virtually guaranteed to kill the project.

Pip Bradley and her neighbours in Grange Road were hoping to join the national Big Lunch - a national event organised for Sunday 19 July by the Eden Project.

It’s aim is to bring neighbourhoods closer together by sharing a celebration of home grown produce and local entertainment.

That’s certainly what the Grange Road lot were planning. They’d lined up graffiti artists, were planning an oral history session, and hoped to launch a local trading scheme.

Efforts were also made at the planning stage to ensure that through traffic could proceed as usual to the nearby Kings Heath High Street.

But that was before they opened negotiations with the petty bureaucrats of the city’s licensing team who put impossible financial hurdles in their way.

They claim that a Council officer quoted a minimum signage fee of £1500, an additional £700 for paperwork and warned that insurance was essential – bringing the total cost to at least £3,000.

Pip reckons that makes it more or less impossible for the Big Lunch to take place in her street.
She said: “Although some great people on my road are all up for it and we have some fab plans, our Big Lunch is in big jeopardy of not going ahead.

“Birmingham City Council want to charge us a minimum fee of £3000. How a bunch of people from a street in Birmingham are supposed to raise this so they can use their own street I don't know.

”The more we try and push our Big Lunch the more we get the feeling that the whole campaign is not for the likes of us and that unless you live in a nice posh close and can get your giant Range Rover into your double garage then the Big Lunch is not for you.”

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said that the charge of £1500 for signage was advisory only as they don't provide this service. It was an estimate based on their own experience as signs would have to be provided.

He added that funding for the event might be available through the local Community Chest, but this was decided at local level, not the Council House.

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